This doctor could “write a book”
Now that ear, nose and throat doctor J. Nicholas Vandemoer no longer has to be concerned about protecting his fingers, he plans to finally take up one of his favorite things – woodworking
“Fat Tuesday” was the ear, nose and throat doctor’s last office day, after working at Cape Cod Hospital for 42 years. He chose the day of Mardi Gras to mark his retirement because his medical career began when he graduated from Tulane University School of Medicine in New Orleans.
“I came here fresh out of training (after residency),” said Dr. Vandemoer. He was recruited by the late Thomas Martone, MD, to join his practice, Hyannis Ear, Nose and Throat in 1974.
“It’s unusual these days to be in one place for this long. It’s important to go out on a high note and be fulfilled with what you have done,” he said.
And he has accomplished a great deal.
He has been chief of staff, a trustee and chairman of the bylaws committee at Cape Cod Hospital and he helped raised $1 million for the Davenport- Mugar Cancer Center at the hospital through physicians’ contributions.
An Interest in Scuba Diving
While his specialty has been diagnosis and treatment of the ear, nose and throat in adults and children, he has done facial plastic surgery and treatment of allergies. He is currently the only ENT specialist certified in Diving and Hyperbaric Medicine in New England, which is the treatment of illnesses that effect scuba divers.
In the early 1970s he began seeing patients who would come to him with complaints of ear problems and other medical symptoms from diving. They were mostly lobstermen who were diving as deep as 100 feet. That’s when he became interested in taking up diving himself.
He teaches diving and hyperbaric medical courses to physicians and does annual physical exams for commercial divers. These are divers who work on bridges or on the oil rigs in the Gulf.
“Many of them live up here and will come back to recuperate after an accident. I continue their treatments while they are here,” said Dr. Vandemoer.
For his retirement party, the office waiting room was transformed into a party environment with colorful decorations, bead necklaces for everyone and a buffet luncheon. Colleagues and patients stopped by to wish him good luck and thank him for the care he has provided to them.
“I’ve been going to him since I was 23 years old and I’m 61 now,” said Leslie Waite of Truro. “He makes us feel special.”
“He is terrific,” said Judy Green of West Yarmouth. She was found unconscious in her home last year and was seriously ill. She was intubated for seven days in the ICU and Dr. Vandemoer was one of her physicians.
“I’m so grateful he could take care of me,” she said.
Diana Colley of North Truro started seeing Dr. Vandemoer in 2003 and has been going to him ever since.
“We Could Write A Book”
He said he will miss his patients, his staff, the hospital nurses and those who have worked in his office.
“The patients are so enjoyable and appreciative, especially the seniors and the children,” said Dr. Vandemoer.
“You have to give kudos to the nurses. Among the positive things the hospital has given my patients, good nursing care has been one of them.”
He reminisced about the famous singers from the Melody Tent he treated for sore throats and throat problems over the years. He has also treated “famous personages” who live on the Cape and even a Mafia boss.
While a stream of well-wishers continued for the two-hour celebration, office staff continued to pack up, answer phones, give out copies of medical records to patients and share stories with one another.
Kerry Martin, M.S. CC-A, an audiologist, who has worked with Dr. Vandemoer for 27 years; Cathy Fisher for 25 years; and Betsy Gallagher for 23 years all shared anecdotal stories.
“We could write a book about the hilarious things that have happened to us over the years,” said Dr. Vandemoer.
Anthony Prizzi MD, a retired urologist and Eugene C. Ciccarelli, an ophthalmologist, both with Cape Cod Hospital commented on Dr. Vandemoer’s work at the celebration.
“I’ve served on several committees with him and he is very easy to work with,” said Dr. Prizzi. “We’ve had a lot of good on-the-water memories with the sailing we have done together.”
Dr. Cicarelli said he has known Dr. Vandemoer since he arrived on the Cape.
“Nick has always been a pleasure to work with and I’ve admired his work on the bylaws.”
While Dr. Vandemoer’s practice is now closed, he will not be slowing down anytime soon. He plans to spend more time with his three grandchildren, go sailing, indulge in his love of scuba diving, and, of course, woodworking.
[Featured Photo: Dr. Vandemoer and his staff. Back row, left to right: Lorraine Klasson, Roberta Martin, Christine Lydon, Dr. Vandemoer, Rena White, Susan Vandemoer, and John Vandemoer. Front row, left to right: Cathy Fisher, Betsy Gallagher, Cheryl Radford .]